Employee Spotlight: In the Kitchen with John Shea

Zenput HR
Published On:
Nov 24, 2020

Today we’re highlighting John Shea, our Director of Customer Operations. Check out his recipe below.

This is part of our Zenput employee cooking blog series.

The Zenput team is full of talented and unique individuals, but there’s one thing that many of us have in common: the ability to cook delicious food! As the quarantine and social distancing guidelines have started becoming the new normal, many of our team members have taken to the kitchen, sharing photos of their creations in our #fun-food channel on Slack. 

What’s cooking? Any story behind the recipe?

Chicken Tortilla Soup—my mom used to cook a version of this for me as I was growing up. When I got older I started to make it for myself with some updates to improve it (shhhhh dont tell her I said that). It scales beautifully, so you can make a little or a lot depending on how many people you are serving.

This recipe NEVER fails to impress and I constantly get requests from friends and family to make it.


Has the quarantine changed your cooking habits at all? (I.e. do you cook more often/less often?)

The WFH time we have had has really given me time to research and perfect recipes that I have been meaning to try. I feel like the quality of my cooking has been elevated to a new level while my waistline has grown to a new circumference!


What is one of your favorite cooking tips/tricks/secrets you’d like to leave us with?

  • Learn how flavors work together. You will never need another recipe again if you can look at a fridge filled with ingredients and understand how to put them together in a harmonious way.
  • A splash of acid (vinegar/lemon juice) at the very end will improve almost ANY dish.


John Shea Chicken Tortilla Soup


Chicken Tortilla Soup (Serves 4-6 people)


For soup

  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, thighs, or a mixture of both
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium jalapeños, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 2 medium poblano chiles, stemmed and medium dice
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and medium dice
  • 1 medium red onion, medium dice
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 cups (1 quart) chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 2 medium limes)


For serving

  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 3 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 medium scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • Tortilla chips



  1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season generously all over with salt and pepper; set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in 2 or 3 batches, add the chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until it’s browned all over, about 6 to 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a large plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the jalapeños, poblanos, bell pepper, and onion to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Cook, scraping up any browned bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the pot and stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, cumin, measured salt, and chili powder, stir to coat the vegetables, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the stock or broth and beans and stir to combine. Return the chicken pieces and any accumulated juices to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, turning the chicken halfway through, about 40 to 50 minutes total. Turn off the heat.
  6. Remove the chicken to a cutting board. When it’s cool enough to handle, remove the meat and set it aside (discard the skin and bones).
  7. Using a potato masher, lightly mash about half of the beans and vegetables, leaving the remaining half intact. Stir in the shredded chicken and lime juice. Serve with the cheese, cilantro, and scallions and tortilla chips on the side.


Pro tip: Double or triple the recipe and freeze the leftovers in individual serving size containers. This soup holds up wonderfully to a deep freeze and it's always great to just have something hearty ready to go at a moment's notice. ESPECIALLY if you are feeling under the weather.

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